Great Lakes Folk Festival - The Awesome Mitten

Great Lakes Folk Fest Celebrates Another Year at MSU

Since 2002, people of all ages flock to East Lansing for a weekend of folk and culture for the Great Lakes Folk Festival. After the Michigan State University Museum hosted several festivals prior to 2002, the official Great Lakes Folk Festival was born. August 12 – 14, 2016, artists and musicians lined the streets of Michigan State’s campus to celebrate a taste of varied cultures and entertainment. The weekend was an experience of not only Michigan but a slice of the world beyond the Mitten State.

Great Lakes Folk Festival - The Awesome Mitten
Orquesta Ritmo performing Sunday. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth

The stages hosted an array of musical and performing genres, including bluegrass, reggae, salsa, and swing dancing. On the Dance Stage, both young and old gathered to salsa, swing, and square dance.

Performers during the event ranged from Michigan-made artists, like acapella gospel group Masters of Harmony from Detroit and swing jazz artist Arlene McDaniel from Bath, Michigan, to performers from across the nation and world. Grace Chang, who played the Chinese harp hails from New York, while Calan, a Welsh Celtic group consisting of whistles, guitar, fiddles, a reed, and bagpipes, is from Wales.

Great Lakes Folk Festival - The Awesome Mitten
Jewelry made from the pain on the MSU rock. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth

The festival also included a market street where crafters filled tents with handmade items available for purchase. A local shop, Soulful Earth Herbals featured crafted soaps, lotions and other care products, Finding Peacock from Ohio showcased jewelry made from bones, and ReCycled Ammo Jewelry had items made from bullets. At one booth, jewelry was crafted from paint that came off “The Rock” on Michigan State’s campus.

Great Lakes Folk Festival - The Awesome Mitten
ReCycled Ammo necklaces. Photo by Amber Ainsworth.

Near the market was an area for street performers. Will White played his dulcimer, a stringed instrument so strong that it held his weight when he stood on it to demonstrate its durability.

Great Lakes Folk Festival - The Awesome Mitten
Will White plays his dulcimer at the street performer tent. Photo courtesy of Amber Ainsworth

The Great Lakes Folk Festival represented talents from across spectrums, bringing people together to hear instruments, sounds, and styles – both familiar and new – and to see the results of an artistic eye and hard work that went into the items available for purchase.

Have you been to any festivals in Michigan this summer? Which was your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments!

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